The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

The Aardvark Speaks : metablogging

This page contains the last 50 stories posted to this category, sorted in chronological order (earliest first). For earlier stories, you need to check out the monthly archives.


Spam attack

Urgh. 800 Trackback pings for some online pharmacy and Texas Holdem online poker (don't we all love them?). And my blacklist caught all of them. Har har.

What's more disquieting, however, is that after a year or so of only attempting to spam my recipe and anti-Microsoft blogs, they have now discovered my main weblog. Got to keep that blacklist updated. Grumble.

Posted by Horst on February 03, 2005 | # | Comments (1)

Emotional release

It could be that these manifesto-free zones are kind of addictive. Or I've merely been too uptight lately and need some kind of emotional release for my inner tensions. Anyway, I simply had to do this:

Manifesto-free blog zone


tomato soup
Posted by Horst on February 08, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

It's odd

Strange how the eye gets used to things. Only two days ago I thought that my manifesto-free blog zone was a veritable eyesore that would cause your eyes to pop out of their sockets (or at least give you a serious headache). Now, two days later, the two zones look remarkably, well, not that bad anymore. The colours are still pretty garish, but much to my surprise I find that it's actually possible to get used to them.

Which explains why people in the 1980s were able to wear the strangest clothes without seeming to mind just what they looked like, and it was probably because everybody else was wearing the same stuff. Or why groups like Haysi Fantayzee were not partcular oddities then, but seemed to come straight out of a freak show when I saw them recently in some retrospctive show on BBC Prime (jeez, I had totally forgotten that things like that had existed in the 80s).

Just imagine all websites made generous use of strong colours. Actually, it's possible that they actually did at some point, because all so-called "web-safe" colours are so strong and intense that you would never use them voluntarily on any website that you'd want people to visit (rather than shy away from). Anyway, if all websites were like that, it's possible that we wouldn't even notice it anymore, and my manifesto-free blog zone would have to be a stark white with black text on it.

Posted by Horst on February 09, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I probably should be joining the hype

It seems they (and I'm not quite sure who "they" are, but I have a rough idea) are seriously hyping podcasting — you know the hype is on when articles start appearing in daily newspapers.

That's quite surprising given that the more or less official podcasting site contains very little useable information on what podcasting is and how it works — seems the folks who invented it have such a clear idea about these things that they don't deem it necessary to explain it properly (fortunately, some other people do).

As with audioblogging, of which podcasting is an obvious derivative, I'm not sure what uses it can be put to. Much as I'd appreciate having my own pseudo radio show ("The Aardvark Talks"?), these things seem pretty pointless if you have nothing to talk about. And as I'm currently having something of a dry blogging spell (you may have noticed) and often don't even know what to write about, I'm not sure if starting a podcast now would be such a great idea.

But then as the owner of a new iPod I feel almost compelled to do it. Not listen to other people's podcasts, mind you — can't really be bothered — but really unleash my own worthless audio material on the world out there and wonder if other people can be bothered to listen to it. It might be worth a try.

Posted by Horst on February 11, 2005 | # | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Not in the mood

Okay, so I've spent all day building two weblogs for internal use at the office, and so I don't really feel like blogging privately today. Deal with it. The solution for Saturday's puzzle will be posted tomorrow.

Posted by Horst on February 28, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Scandal

Last week (I think) there was this huge scandal that caused quite a hoopla in the German blogosphere — basically what had happened was that Der Spiegel Online had published an article on the genocide in Rwanda that was largely copied from the German Wikipedia without naming the source. Der Spiegel eventually removed the article and printed an apology, and the German Wikipedia and weblog community rejoiced. It has taken me a while to respond to this, mostly because I've had more important things to do and criticising the Wikipedia is always like opening a can of rabid worms, but the debate that followed was just too hypocritical not to warrant a belated response.

First, there is no doubt that Der Spiegel made a mistake. What they did is incompatible with journalism, in fact incompatible with serious writing of any kind. There is a basic difference between using sources and copying sources, there is a difference between known reliable sources, known unreliable sources and sources of unknown reliability, and finally, there is a difference between naming your sources and pretending that you did not use any sources.

It's perfectly okay if a journalist uses known reliable sources and credits them. It's okay if a journalist uses a known unreliable source or a source of unknown reliability if s/he points out that the source may be unreliable. For things that are considered common knowledge it's the norm (though slightly less okay) that sources are used, but not credited. What should not happen is that sources are copied and not credited. What should not happen at all is that sources that are known to be unreliable are copied and not credited.

In the case of the copied Wikipedia article I don't know which of the two aspects is more embarrassing for Der Spiegel: the fact that the article was copied from Wikipedia or the fact that it was copied from Wikipedia, or, in other words: is it worse that the "journalist" in question did not know how to use sources properly or that he did not know to use proper sources?

And then the hypocrisy. Of course what's happening at the moment in the weblogs vs. journalism debate is something like a palace revolution. There's a huge number of people out there who are (rightly) dissatisfied with the established media and are only waiting for new media developments like weblogs to take over — a development that I hinted at in my BlogTalk paper last year. And since the established media are not responding with more professionalism, but instead resort to an increasing degree to copy-and-paste publishing, that may very well happen soon enough.

In my paper, I argued that weblogs are not journalism. Most of them still are not. But oddly enough what the established media are publishing now also less and less qualifies as journalism. In fact, the whole Spiegel Online thing qualifies only as one massive embarrassment. Still, it would be wrong to conclude that simply because the established media are becoming less professional, weblogs are becoming journalism. It still takes more than a WordPress or Movable Type installation (or a job at one of the established media, for that matter) to be a journalist.

Still, the hypocrisy. It's understandable, because hundreds of bloggers have been eagerly waiting for one of the established media to make a proper fool of itself to point out just how much the established media have become dead meat, but while they're right about that, they are acting as if Wikipedia was totally free of articles copied from other sources without attribution.

Which sounds just too good to be true, especially, as I pointed out elsewhere, it is sometimes not even possible. So it's good fun to see the Wikipedia community suddenly claim ownership of things that can hardly be owned and Der Spiegel being unprofessional enough to actually give them a point. In the meantime, real journalism probably happens elsewhere. Just don't ask me where.

Posted by Horst on March 15, 2005 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

---

I seem to have seriously run out of ideas and/or inspiration for blogging. Nothing worth writing or even ranting about. Sorry.

Posted by Horst on April 12, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Fairly lame attempt at making this weblog more interesting, despite a serious drop in the quality of recent postings

Recipe for success

[Thanks to Laura for the tip.]

Update: At the request of the Moose Police (see next entry), this picture has been modified slightly to comply with current blogging regulations.

Posted by Horst on April 15, 2005 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Weblog Closed

This weblog has been closed down by the Moose Police until further notice for violating the Blogging Manifesto by posting a cat picture outside a manifesto-free zone. Further details will follow.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson on April 15, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Weblog Reopened

After a modification to the previously posted picture, the Moose Police has agreed to allow this weblog to reopen again.

Posted by Haldur Gislufsson on April 16, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

You can't podcast cat pictures (yet)

For a while now (a few months, to be precise), I have been toying with the idea of introducing a podcast on this weblog. I even asked a fellow blogger, Mr deedee, to co-operate in what I envisioned would best work as a joint venture. I haven't been talking about this too much here because I figured it would take a while to come to life.

Well. It looks as if it's going to be the Perennial Project. "Perennial" as in "probably never going to materialise".

The problem is manifold:

  • An podcast should be interesting, or not be made at all. Too much garbage is already clogging up the ether. It should express something new in a new, or at least original way.
  • An interesting podcast must by definition transcend the boundaries of a written weblog, it must offer something that could never be done in writing.
  • Recording a podcast takes planning. Serious planning. Unless you want to limit yourself to two-minute snippets, you need to create concepts, structures, outlines. This in turn takes time. A lot more time than writing a quick entry. Even more time than writing a well thought-out entry.
  • Recording a podcast takes a technical infrastructure and, if you don't have the time to spend at least half a day on it, a production team that does some of the work for you. This, in turn, costs money.

I guess what I want to say is that I seem to be unable to produce the kind of podcast I'd like to make. Lately I've got barely enough time to think of proper weblog entries, so even though I kind of have an idea of what I'd like to podcast, there's no way I'd have the time to do it properly. Or the money to have it done properly.

And I'm beginning to think that unless you don't care at all about quality, the story of podcasts as "Every (wo)man's private radio station that is going to undermine traditional radio" is nothing but a fairy tale. To be done properly, there seems to be no other way than to do it professionally. And there's no way to cheat yourself out of the dilemma — since podcasts are still limited to audio transmissions, there's simply no possibility to podcast cat pictures, even though I'm convinced that as soon as there's video podcasts, there'll be no shortage of cat videos. They're much easier to produce than good audio podcasts, and there's an abundance of viewers who want to watch just that sort of thing. Could be the next huge business idea, actually. Remember you read it here first.

Posted by Horst on April 19, 2005 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Synchronicity, #2

I swear that I did not copy the idea for yesterday's posting from that other weblog that I read regularly and that I can't name here or link to, because every time I do, that weblog gets attacked and taken down by spammers. If you read this month's posts, you'll know which one I mean anyway.

Actually, I had the idea for my posting on Friday, April 22 at about 11pm, while I was walking through the streets of Brussels on my way back from the 50 Foot Wave concert, which is almost three days before that other, very similar posting showed up on that other weblog. And I honestly hadn't read any other weblogs since my return from Brussels on Tuesday morning. So it wasn't until yesterday, after I had written my post, that I checked out the weblogs on my blogroll and found that very similar entry on that other weblog.

Which means this is my second spooky synchronicity experience with that weblog. I am beginning to think that it's not spammers who are taking down that weblog whenever I link to it. It's really that I and the other author are actually two incarnations of the same person living in slightly shifted, but also slightly overlapping parallel universes, and every time I link to him I am causing a temporary disturbance of the time/space continuum, which fortunately doesn't have any more sinister consequences than causing his server to go down.

Or at least I hope it doesn't.

Posted by Horst on April 28, 2005 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

RIP

Hardly anyone is allowing Trackbacks anymore. At least none of the people whom I'd occasionally want ping do. Can we say that spam successfully killed this technology?

Of course, maybe it was the technology that was problematic if only the spammers actually bothered to try and figure out what it was useful for.

Posted by Horst on April 28, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (2)

How to lose blog readers - 2 more ways

<meta name="blog-content" content="mostly harmless" />
<meta name="blog-reader-response" content="no-comment, no-trackback" />

As far as I see it from my own experience, there are a couple of reasons why blogs lose readers. For example, I stopped reading some blogs because

  • some blog authors underwent some kind of personality change and began writing about totally different things
  • some blog authors got caught in an endless groove and kept going on and on about the same thing
  • I underwent some kind of personality change and stopped being interested in some things

Now there are a few others (like confusing or barely readable layouts), but I think I can add two more substantial reasons to the list today:

  • the blog split
  • the no-comment, no-trackback area

As Anthony Bourdain writes in his book Kitchen Confidential, the recipe for disaster with restaurants is when they're so successful that they think they have to open new branches. Recently, a blog that I used to read regularly (for the sake of simplicity, let's call it Blog AB) decided it was too big and split into two parts, A and B, only to prove that the whole really is more than the sum of its parts. Blog A now resembles about a hundred other websites on the same topic and doesn't particularly stand out from the competition, whereas the remaining stuff on Blog B is, well, the remaining stuff, and suddenly seems remarkably insubstantial. At first I thought I'd simply stop reading Blog A and stick with Blog B, but now it seems that I'll really stop reading both of them.

Another blog I liked is still pretty good, but also frustrating. Many of its entries invite comment or response, but due to spam attacks and the (partly understandable) unwillingness to maintain anti-spam measures, the author simply shut down both comments and trackbacks, thus ignoring the three basic principles of weblogs:

  • interactivity
  • community
  • connectivity

Basically, by turning off comments and trackbacks, the author turned the weblog into a website. He is denying the community of his readers the possibility to respond, reducing his weblog to a mere broadcast. This seems fairly careless considering that he, as opposed to myself, actually had a community of readers on his weblog.

Posted by Horst on May 03, 2005 | # | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)

Break

If God had wanted me to blog every day, he wouldn't have invented long weekends. See you on Monday.

Posted by Horst on May 26, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dry spell

I am currently experiencing something of a dry spell, inspiration-wise. Please accept my profound apologies for my inability to entertain you.

Posted by Horst on June 19, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Cross-blog announcements

1.
I was too lazy to write this in English, so everything I am willing to disclose about my kitchen secrets (as requested by Ms pinkNgreen) is answered in German over at The Aardvark Cooks.

2.
After the first week, my new fiction blog Messages from the lost continent, a collaboration with five other people, is progressing better than I had expected -- the story has really taken off remarkably well. If the main page confuses you, you may find it helpful to read the chronological archive so that you get the full story from the beginning.

Posted by Horst on June 29, 2005 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Words fail me

Much as the coverage of the London bombings by weblogs has been lauded pretty much everywhere, I'm appalled by some of the responses out there. I've been extensively thinking about what to write myself, and I must have written and discarded some eight or nine versions of this posting, basically because I didn't want it to sound cheesy, which seems to be really hard to avoid.

Like two years ago I was invited to write an anti-war poem and in the process I found that it was next to impossible to write anything that wasn't clichéd, or sentimental, or cheesy, or all three at the same time. I ended up submitting this:

I fold this stone
into a banana leaf; I take
comfort in slumber — I throw the stone
at the nearest wall

I greet the day
like a gift from God; I grease
my machine gun — I lead the sheep
out onto the field

I write a letter
to somebody I know; I open
a yellow parcel — I drive the car
through this checkpoint

I fly a plane
over this country; I prepare
tea for friends — I buy some fruit
at the market

I sit on a truck
in the desert; I make love
to my wife — I dream,
I dream.

(also published in Cursed)

The reaction was mixed; I guess most people didn't know what to do with it. Even I don't know whether this isn't just as clichéd as what I was trying to avoid, only in a different way, but then apparently it's like walking a thin line:

A clear indication that to provoke an immediate response to an authoritative instruction — the cliché is essential. However, remember this, in creative endeavour one benchmark which separates sheep from goats is the ability to stroke a cliché until it purrs like a metaphor. (Alan Fletcher, The art of looking sideways, Phaidon Press, London 2001, p. 202).

I suppose I'll just end today's jumbled entry with this, an Underground map showing the open lines after the bombings:

London Underground 8 July 2005

It seems as if all my friends in London are alive and well. Which is really more important than anything else.

Posted by Horst on July 09, 2005 | # | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Summer schedule

As of today, this weblog will be switching to the summer schedule, which means that the blogging frequency will be more or less erratic. Under no circumstances will there be daily updates.

Regular updates should resume at some point in late August.

Posted by Horst on July 16, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reminder

May I remind you that this blog is still on a summer schedule, meaning there'll be much fewer postings here than usual. If you're looking for entertainment, be sure to check out my fiction blog Messages from the lost continent — the perfect antidote against Harry Potter... :-)

Posted by Horst on July 25, 2005 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Cerveau perdu

As an explanation why I'm not updating my weblog more often at the moment, I could write that I left my notebook* with ideas for about 35 weblog entries in it at the "Soban Taxi-Phone" Internet café, 69 Rue Sébastien Gryphe, Lyon. Which is true. Which was also a minor catastrophe for this weblog.

On the other hand, fact is that I exchanged my TGV ticket for one on a later train and thus postponed my departure from Lyon so that I could return to the "Soban Taxi-Phone" and ask if someone had found my notebook. As the notebook contained nothing other than fragmentary weblog ideas scribbled in almost illegible handwriting, I suppose this increases my ranking on the geek map.

It turned out that someone had indeed found my notebook, so I have no real excuse for not posting anything, especially with at least 35 entries up my sleeve. It's just that during the summer, I rather sit outside sipping pastis and read books than write weblog entries for a readership that is much smaller than usual because they'd all also rather sit outside somewhere sipping something.

*) a paper notebook, not a laptop computer

Posted by Horst on August 02, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Blogaversary!

This weblog is three years old today. Didn't think it would last this long.

May I send my best wishes out to all those nice people whom I'd never have met without this weblog.

Posted by Horst on August 03, 2005 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This is weird

I'm supposed to be on a summer posting schedule (=low posting frequency), and yet I seem to be posting a lot more than usual. Checking past years' archives, I found that my best entries and my highest posting frequency is usually in August. Why am I doing this, when there's nobody out here to even read my stuff during the summer?

This has got to stop.

Posted by Horst on August 07, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Dear spammers,

I am kind of chuffed that you think my weblog with some 50 readers is important enough to send in actual people to drop your crap in my comments and trackbacks because your robots can't post here anymore.

Still, the likes of you are not welcome here. So fuck off.

Posted by Horst on August 13, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Explanation

At the moment, all my creative energy is flowing into Messages from the lost continent and a collection of short stories which I wanted to write last year and now intend to complete by mid-October, which seems feasible at the speed that I'm writing.

Therefore, reduced update scheme here. Sorry.

Posted by Horst on September 18, 2005 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Do I care?

I noticed one interesting phenomenon with most of the bloggers that I read more or less regularly, that started around the time that I did (i.e. about three years ago), and that seem to be more like human beings writing about their lives than robots churning out multiple messages on a regular basis: most of them are currently going through a period of not posting anything.

I'm not using this as an excuse for my own prolonged absence. This October really seems to be a bad month for most bloggers. In my case work at the office has so dried out my brain that I simply can't think of anything to blog about, and any ideas that I have seem to be gone as soon as I want to write them down.

I also read fewer and fewer other blogs, which, I guess, leads to getting fewer and fewer ideas to write about. Add to that that I don't seem to care about my reader statistics anymore. I checked them for the first time in ages today and noticed that I lost at least half my readers during the past 20 weeks. Do I care? Yes and no. After three years of blogging, there seem to be more important things, but I still don't seem to be able to let go of this completely.

They say that in human relationships all of the euphoria hormones are gone after about three years. I wonder if this also applies to weblogs, readers and writers alike. When does your writing output fall back to a normal level, when does your everyday life again assume total priority over your writing, like when was the point when would you actually stop writing in the middle of a weblog posting to get out the vacuum cleaner and hoover under the writing desk to get rid of the totally disgusting stuff under there, like I just did before I wrote this very sentence?

I wonder what all the other weblog absences are about. Like, how many who were part of the hype are on to the Next Big Thing, how many just ran out of fuel, how many are so inundated in their work that they have other things to do? At any rate, it looks as if things are somehow slowly returning back to normal.

Posted by Horst on October 28, 2005 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Block

And then I was under the illusion of having writer's block because I can't seem to think of anything sensible to write about in my weblog at the moment as most of it feels like I've already done it before (yoghurt promotion on cold winter autumn days for example, the one thing you should definitely not be eating according to Chinese medicine, no matter what the [insert well-known brand name here] commercial tells you) or because it seems, well, ephemeral (like the observation that for some reason at this time of the year people dress mostly in grey or black, presumably to match the weather, or to deal with autumnal depression or whatever, and the sight of one young female student in brightly-coloured, alomst spring-like clothes in front of university this morning seems so totally out of place, not to mention out of season), and then I realised that I have been writing other things (like the Messages) like crazy lately and that it isn't really writer's block at all, that it's more of an unwillingness or almost an inability to blather on and on and on about my so-called "boring" life which possibly might be so "boring" that perhaps subconsciously I don't even consider it blogworthy any longer, and, let's admit it, Haldur Gislufsson talking about drunken mooses in Scandinavia for the third consecutive year isn't all that funny either, even if they are now terrorising the residents of an old people's home home, and besides, I haven't even decided whether Haldur should return to this blog or remain mysteriously absent (in a possibly misguided attempt to make this weblog seem more "mature" and "adult" because to be taken more seriously while at the same time I am having long-time Haldur fans complaining about his protrected absence), and all I can say about this is well I don't think I really care because much as I hate my access statistics to indicate that I lost more than half my readers since August, I still can't force myself to write, you know, just to write anything regardless of the content, just filling up blank space on a scrollable and hence potentially infinite page for the sake of a continued blogging output which may, let's admit that, too, be of fairly questionable value, like the question that came up in a blogmeet in London recently when Annie Mole asked what we thought about putting advertisements on our weblogs and whether we thought the dichotomy of making money through ads vs. being criticised for it by our readers for selling out and thus devaluing our weblogs was constituting some kind of dilemma, and I said, no, I don't think so, actually I don't think my weblog has any kind of "value" (whatever that may be) as it is, so I'm not really facing any kind of dilemma other than occasional spells of writer's block, and I refuse to be criticised even for that because there's not really anything I can do against it, so no, I don't think I'm in any kind of dilemma here.

Posted by Horst on November 16, 2005 | # | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)

Change of regulations

Please notice that Trackbacks on this weblog have been changed to operate on a whitelist-only basis, effective immediately.

Meaning that if you want to send me a Trackback ping every now and then, please send me an e-mail with CV, credentials and a letter of recommendation from an established A-, B- or C-list blogger, and you will be put on my Trackback whitelist.

Posted by Horst on March 09, 2006 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Dilemma?

If you had €100 to spare, would you rather spend it on a cheap flight to London to see the last Faith Healers concert, or would you register for the BlogTalk conference in Vienna later this year?

Not much of a dilemma, is it?

Posted by Horst on March 28, 2006 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Temporarily on hiatus

This seems a good a time as any to take a break. I'll be back on 1 May.

Check the Events calendar if you want to see/hear me before that.

Posted by Horst on April 18, 2006 | # | Comments (0)

The Point

As you may have noticed, I added a Flickr link in the sidebar, and I decided to start the "A Photo A Day" initiative today. Meaning that I'll take one photo a day (weekends and holidays excepted, I suppose) and post it on Flickr. It'll be interesting to see how soon I get bored with this thing. You may also notice that I haven't posted a photo today yet, which is just my way of teaching people to be patient. The point of the exercise being that there isn't much of a point really, other than to keep my readers (who must by now be pretty frustrated with this blog) interested with minimal effort on my part.

Just kidding.

In related news, it seems that someone at Amazon didn't quite get the point (albeit a different point) either:

unvergessene vergessene Straßenbahnen

Oh well.

Posted by Horst on May 24, 2006 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Source

If you find yourself referenced on a strange blog such as this, this, or this, then you know that you are either in the company of autistic dadabloggers, or this is why the trackback spammers just won't leave you alone.

Posted by Horst on June 11, 2006 | # | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Conclusion

I suppose that if you go through three attempts at writing a weblog entry and find that three days after you first started writing it, you are still not happy with the third rewrite of the third version, then you should just abort the whole thing and leave it at that.

Posted by Horst on June 15, 2006 | # | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Inventory

After almost two years of criminal neglect, I decided to update my bloglist and discovered the following moderately interesting facts:

  • Remarkably, all but 9 of the blogs I linked to are still active
  • Of the active blogs, 6 have changed their name
  • Of the active blogs, about 60% have changed their layout, but about 98% are still writing about excatly the same things.
  • Of the active blogs, about 50% have kept the same posting schedule, whereas the other 50% have slowed down considerably.
  • Of the inactive blogs, only 2 have been removed from the server
  • 18 blogs removed me from their blogrolls
  • 12 blogs removed their blogrolls altogether
  • 6 blogs added me to their blogrolls
  • at least 75 splogs have me on their pseudo-blogrolls

I'd have blogged these facts enthusiastically about two years ago, but today I think that this is one of the lamest posts that I came up with recently.

Obviously, things change.

Like I realized when I recently changed the layout of this weblog's front page -- which you may or may not have noticed because the actual change visible to a casual visitor is barely noticeable, but the changes in the source code are rather profound -- that my way of writing source code has changed significantly since when I first put up this design in 2003.

I came across a very old site of mine a while ago, and I realized how inconceivable it seems now to write a page like this, like, not closing my <p>s properly with </p>s and stuff like that. I wondered whether my perspective on other things in my life, other than HTML source code had also changed this radically. I couldn't come up with anything quickly, but I realized that back then the idea of cooking Zwiebelrostbraten was also inconceivable back then. You don't notice these gradual changes as they happen, but whenever you're suddenly confronted with a piece from your past, it may just suddenly hit you how much you've changed.

So whilst it can be argued from a design point of view that this weblog now resembles another little website I did a while ago even more closely, I do now have the impression that I have a better idea what I'm doing with my source code. If the new layout isn't completely tableless, it's mostly due to the fact that Internet Explorer has great problems displaying these properly, but basically I get the feeling that that other little website has taught me an awful lot about Strict XHTML and CSS.

It has also taught me a lot about other things, but I'm not ready to discuss them publicly. At least not yet.

Posted by Horst on June 27, 2006 | # | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Closure

Posted by Horst on June 30, 2006 | # | Comments (15)

Anniversary

I thought it might be worth mentioning that the first posting on The Aardvark Speaks was published exactly four years ago, on Saturday 3 August 2002. How time flies.

Posted by Horst on August 03, 2006 | # | Comments (3)

Point

I agree with most people who write about blogs that there is true fun and value in the comments that you receive from your readers. Which is why every once in a while I go fishing for comments. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. It's not a big deal if it doesn't. Such is life.

Generally, I write three types of blog postings:

  • Those where I want my readers to get the point.
  • Those where I want my readers to miss the point.
  • Those which have no point at all.

Whenever I'm fishing for comments (which is not all the time), the most satisfying blog comments are of course those where my readers behave just as expected. Yes, it can be predictable and sometimes even dull, but it gives me a wonderful sense of power, and I'm the devious kind of person who enjoys things like that.

On the other hand, it is slightly irritating if comments are miles besides the point even though the point is blatantly obvious. And I've more than once doubted the human capacity for humour when people are trying really hard to get a deep message out of a nonsense posting that was never meant to be serious.

What's even worse though, is when readers happen to get a point which I've taken great care to hide. Fortunately, this happens only very rarely.

Posted by Horst on September 06, 2006 | # | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Blog event

On Thursday 28 September, there will be a a lecture and subsequent panel discussion on "Blogs - Revolutionary Future of Journalism or Nothing New Under the Sun?" at the Main Reading Hall of the Vienna University Library.

Speakers include David Carlson, Cox/Palm Beach Post Professor of New Media Journalism, University of Florida; Garrett Graff, editor-at-large of Washingtonian magazine, and Horst Prillinger, librarian at Vienna University library. The panel will be moderated by Andreas Unterberger, editor-in-chief of the Wiener Zeitung.

Entry is free, but if you want to come, please send a brief e-mail to events.ub@univie.ac.at.

Blogs - Revolutionary Future of Journalism or Nothing New Under the Sun? Thursday 28 September 2006, 7:00pm, Vienna University Library, Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1, A-1010 Wien. Entry is free, but if you want to come, please send a brief e-mail to events.ub@univie.ac.at. Further information: http://www.ub.univie.ac.at/events/.

N.B.: If you want to be notified of future events at which I will be appearing (mostly poetry readings, performances, DJ dates, etc.), you can send me an e-mail by clicking here, and I'll put you on my mailing list.

Posted by Horst on September 12, 2006 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Apology

I apologize for the trivial content on this weblog.

That is, with the VU library event on weblogs and BlogTalk coming up, and with me being on the panel of both events and being linked to from both events' official sites, there has been a minor spike (ok, more of a bump) of visitors to my website, who I guess expected some sort of wisdom from a man who is supposedly an expert on weblogs.

Instead you got an entry on a zit on my lower lip. I am truly sorry about that. The zit still hurts by the way, and doesn't respond to medical treatment, even though the attractive woman mentioned below is currently nowhere in sight.

In the context of weblogs and journalism, I must admit that me having a zit on my lower lip is not exactly big news, especially as I happen to get a zit somewhere on my face whenever I eat pork (which is why I stopped eating pork almost completely, which in turn is something that you're most likely not interested in at all). It is, however, a typical example of the kind of news that you will invariably find in most weblogs: highly personal, highly subjective, fairly emotional, immediate, and also somewhat irrelevant. That way weblogs do, however, only reflect the general development of news coverage in other mass media, albeit in a more extreme fashion.

In the context of weblogs and social effects, me having a zit on my lower lip might count as me sharing an intimate moment with you, even though it is probably the kind of intimate moment that you could well do without. But then again, I find that oddly enough people do seem to connect with the zit on my lower lip, so this might give me some justification in writing about things like that. On the other hand, on other blogs readers also seem to connect with cat vomit, and I find that a bit disturbing. Either way, it shows that thanks to the much-quoted "New Media Revolution", zits are no longer confined to the bathroom mirror. They can actually be part of a public performance, even though it is open to debate to what extent zits are in good taste or not.

For more wisdom on zits, cat vomit and weblogs, come to the blogging event at Vienna University Library tomorrow. The event takes place in the main reading room and starts at 7:00pm.

Posted by Horst on September 27, 2006 | # | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Principle

In principle, I do not blog from blogging conferences that I am attending. Not that I am attending so many blogging conferences. I do tend to violate those principles, however, if some presentation is interesting enough. On the other hand, if I am not blogging anything, this doesn't mean that there was no interesting presentation. It just means that I couldn't be bothered, which is a symptom I get from time to time and nothing to worry about really.

Posted by Horst on October 02, 2006 | # | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Werewolves

Post-conference parties at which bloggers turn into werewolves sure are fun.

Posted by Horst on October 03, 2006 | # | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Misrepresentation

I said what?

I said what?

Talk in the presence of journalists and this is what happens. I'm talking about the myriad of different voices that are articulating themselves via weblogs, and they say that I said weblogs are one-sided? Give them Q-tips to clean out their ears.

And who gave them the permission to use this photograph anyway? I certainly didn't.

Posted by Horst on October 04, 2006 | # | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Thinking

I'm trying to remember what the blog entry was that I wanted to write today. I remember distinctly lying on the sofa yesterday after I came home from my favourite Indian restaurant, the one where I always get ideas for weblog articles, and this time I didn't get the idea for the weblog entry at the restaurant, but immediately afterwards at home after a glass of Bombay Sapphire I had this great idea, or what seemed like a great idea anyway.

I had a Chet Baker record playing on the turntable, and I remember hearing only the first minute or so of it, because I instantly fell asleep. When I woke up an hour or so later, I had forgotten all about that weblog entry. I had even forgotten that I wanted to write a weblog entry. I blame the Bombay Sapphire.

Today I remembered wanting to write something, but I did not remember what I wanted to write. Instead I thought that I could write a scathing review of the new Joanna Newsom album, but that wasn't the original idea, and right now I don't really feel like it, even though it seems like the next best thing to do.

So I guess tomorrow you'll see whether I remembered what I wanted to write today, or you'll get the Joanna Newsom review. That is, if nothing else happens that seems to be more important.

Posted by Horst on November 29, 2006 | # | Comments (1)

Hesitation

As you probably noticed, I've been somewhat hesitant as to whether post a blog entry this year or not, figuring that the best time to stop and reconsider is at the end of the year. And a lot of people on my blogroll have used the opportunity this year to stop blogging -- most of them people who started around the time when I started.

But what the heck. I guess I'll continue, although at a schedule that might be even more irregular than it has been recently.

But do not despair. On the contrary, expect an entirely new blog in which I will participate in early February, and possibly even a new fiction project in spring/early summer. More details will follow.

Finally, all of you who didn't receive a copy of Messages or The Happiest Guy before Christmas because I was sold out too soon will be pleased to hear that the discounted copies available directly from me are available again -- just drop me a note if you want yours. Amazon has unfortunately still not corrected the glitch which made Messages disappear completely from their catalogue, but it is available from Libri.de... just use the order links above or on the right.

And thanks to everybody who read them and gave me feedback of some sort... particularly in the case of The Happiest Guy in the World, about which I had had my doubts, but which seems to hit a nerve with almost everybody I heard from so far. One reader told me it gave her really weird dreams. I take that as very positive criticism.

Posted by Horst on January 10, 2007 | # | Comments (2)

Comment

A paper that I'm currently writing has me thinking about weblogs again. One, the diminishing posting frequency on weblogs all around me (and, let's admit it, here too) has led me to believe that the golden days of weblogging might be over. Sadly, I'm not saying this as somebody who jumped the hype, but as somebody who started a website only to discover that he was actually writing a weblog. It therefore struck me as some kind of surprise when only a few days ago, I stumbled across two article, the first of which claims that weblogs are the ideal marketing tool, and the second says that weblogs are becoming increasingly relevant because webloggers are apparently "investigative multipliers". Um.

Anyway, in this paper I am trying to single out strategies for using weblogs in libraries, despite the fact that I see their importance dwindling. Today, I wrote some 1200 words on the significance on comments and trackbacks, and noticed how their significance seems to have changed.

Even Dave Winer, the controversial semi-guru of weblogging changed his position between 2003, when he claimed that comments were a defining element of weblogs, to 2007, when he says that they're not really all that important.

So what about the interactivity, the writer-reader communication interface? Was the fact that a weblog allowed on-the-spot discussion of a topic not one of the things that made weblogs different from the rest of the web-based applications?

I am wondering what sidelined comments (and trackbacks, by the way) so much, and the main suspects seem to be two things:

First, comment/trackback spammers, who forced many bloggers to switch off or at least restrict access to the comment and trackback functionality. Whether the subsequent sidelining of these functionalities is the result of rationalising this decision or whether it stems from the realisation that blogs can survive without them is open to discussion.

Second, wikis and other forms of interactive web publications may have taken over this functionality from weblogs as they seem to be more suited for discussion.

But overall, the interconnection between weblogs seems to have become looser. People have been removing or reducing blogrolls, comments are often not available, and as a result the often cited "community" quality of weblogs seems to be waning away. I guess part of the reason for people losing interest in their own blog is that they are finding fewer interesting other blogs due to this symptom.

I also may be totally wrong here. If you wish to add your 2 cents, the comment space for this weblog entry is open.

Posted by Horst on March 28, 2007 | # | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

It's the past

Tried to discourage one of my students from reading through all the archives of this weblog today.

"It's the past. Things were different then. I tried to do different things, and I'm not interested in them anymore."

In fact, what's the point of keeping an archive of stupid things you said that you don't want anyone to read anyway? A few days ago I received a very cryptic comment on an anti-George Bush entry I had written over three years ago. I had totally forgotten about it and was rather surprised by all the anger and bitterness in my posting. But that aside, who the heck would care to read a dated article like that?

And probably think that it's still representative of who I am now. I should sever the links as soon as possible, before anything serious happens.

Posted by Horst on June 26, 2007 | # | Comments (4)

Why this blog was offline

Things are happening that I can't write about, which is annoying. The only things I can write about are boring. And then every once in a while it happens that I don't want to be googled by somebody. Not that it would change a thing if I remove my page, because Google has that nasty cache, but it still feels safer to do it anyway. I need a pseudonym or something.

Posted by Horst on September 06, 2007 | # | Comments (3)

Sorry...

If you've been wondering why I haven't been writing anything here at all, it's because lately I have been rather heavily involved in a site called rateyourmusic.com. Specifically, I have been writing music reviews like mad.

You can read them here:

or click on the picture in the sidebar where it says "Music". Basically, whenever that picture changes, it's kind of likely that I've written a new review.

At the moment, the reviewing comes a lot easier than writing regular weblog entries, but I promise that I will eventually be back with some new stuff here, too...

Posted by Horst on December 12, 2007 | # | Comments (7)

Okay, so that McDonalds post didn't make sense

Sorry about that.
It happens from time to time.

It's funny how a nonsensical blog post can collapse instantly the moment somebody posts a sensible comment. Quite remarkable really.

Posted by Horst on February 07, 2008 | # | Comments (0)

Done!

After a long and rather protracted struggle, my MSc thesis on the potentials and practical applications of weblogs in the context of academic libraries is finally finished and will be submitted on Monday. One more exam to go in late March, and then you can download it from a thesis server near you.

Abstract:

Since the late 1990s, a new kind of publication on the Internet has raised an increasing amount of attention: the weblog, basically a website that is frequently updated, contains short postings that are arranged in reverse-chronological order, which can contain anything from everyday experiences of their author to project notes, political commentary, technological newsbites, or even cat pictures. A weblog also typically contains an archive of all previous postings, a unique URL for each entry, an XML feed that allows subscription to the entries, links to related websites and comments from its readers.

Through linking to each other, weblogs form clusters of information; through the chronological order of the entries, they put strong emphasis on processes rather than on results; through the open structure, they invite conversation and communication.

Libraries and librarians are working from the understanding that their goal is to propagate information and access to information. As a consequence, librarians have embraced the weblog concept right from its inception as a medium to connect and inform.

This thesis takes a brief look at the mechanisms of weblogs in general, and some of the principles governing their application in a library context in particular. It also analyses the use of weblog-like web pages maintained by Austrian academic libraries (for both external and internal communication) and to what extent these pages make use of the advantages of weblog technology. These findings are contrasted with examples of how weblogs are used by libraries in other countries. Finally, the thesis will show how personal weblogs written by librarians can rectify negative images of the profession, and will introduce a number of personal weblogs to illustrate the point.

Posted by Horst on February 16, 2008 | # | Comments (4)


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